About the Congenital CMV Foundation

Founder of the Congenital CMV Foundation

Lenore Pereira,Ph. D., is a Professor of Microbiology and Virology in the Department of Cell and Tissue Biology at the University of California San Francisco. Dr. Pereira has studied immune responses to CMV infection and molecular biology of viral glycoproteins for over 25 years. Dr. Pereira generated the first monoclonal antibodies to CMV proteins for studies on antigenic structure and functions of the viral glycoproteins and diagnosis of infection. Studies on viral infection of specialized cell types in human tissues led to analysis of CMV replication and pathogenesis in the human placenta. Since 2000, Dr. Pereira’s group has pioneered studies on mechanisms of placental infection and routes of virus transmission from mother to fetus. Currently, Dr. Pereira’s research involves identifying biomarkers of CMV replication at the uterine-placental interface for early diagnosis of infection, prenatal treatment and prevention of congenital disease.

Members of the Scientific Advisory Committee

Stuart Adler, M.D. is a Professor of Pediatrics, Microbiology and Medicine and Director of Infectious Diseases at the Children’s Medical Center, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center. Dr. Adler has specialized in CMV infections among women and children for over 28 years and has published extensively on this topic. He has participated in clinical trials for vaccines and prevention of infection in daycare centers through hygienic methods and advocates universal screening of mothers and newborns. In 2005, in collaboration with Dr. Giovanni Nigro, Dr. Adler and other investigators in Italy, published encouraging data concerning the use of hyperimmune CMV immunoglobulins to prevent and treat infections in women who acquired their first CMV infection during pregnancy. Dr. Adler and Dr. Nigro are available to answer questions from women or their physicians, without charge, regarding how to prevent or treat CMV infections in pregnant women.

Michael Cannon, Ph.D. is a research epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, Georgia and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Emory University, Rollins School of Epidemiology. Dr. Cannon has studied the sexually transmitted human herpesviruses. His current research involves understanding the prevalence of congenital CMV disease in different ethnic populations. Dr. Cannon is particularly interested in developing strategies to prevent congenital CMV infection through public awareness and education.

Gail Demmler, M.D. is a of Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor School of Medicine dedicated to child health and providing care for families touched by congenital CMV infection. Dr. Demmler has published extensively on this topic for over 20 years including diagnosis of congenital CMV disease, surveillance, epidemiology and treatment. She plays an activist role in providing advice for families worldwide through the Baylor website. Many of her excellent writings and advice newletters for families were used in preparing the website.

Robert Pass, M.D. is a Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Dr. Pass has studied various aspects of congenital CMV infection for over 25 years, including the epidemiology of maternal and congenital infection, disability due to the congenital infection, cell mediated immune response to CMV in infected infants, routes of vertical and horizontal transmission and molecular epidemiology of CMV infections in children and families. Studies of the role of maternal immunity in preventing congenital CMV infection and disease led to interest in vaccine development. Dr. Pass’s current research involves clinical trials of CMV vaccines with the goal of advancing the effort toward a vaccine for prevention of congenital CMV infection.

Maria Grazia Revello, M.D is a Research Clinical Virologist at Servizio di Virologia, Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico Policlinico San Matteo, Pavia, Italy. Dr. Revello has focused research on improved diagnosis particularly in the challenging area of diagnostic tests for maternal and fetal infection during pregnancy. She has published critical papers that evaluate aspects of maternal immunity relative to infection before and after conception. Dr. Revello’s committment to excellence in providing counseling to pregnant women based on diagnostic analyses led to developing the European Congenital CMV Initiative and organizing the first Congenital CMV Conference in Orvieto, 2006. This was the first meeting focused entirely on congenital infection and brought together basic, clinical and industrial researches and families affected by congenital CMV disease.

Deborah Spector, Ph.D. is a Professor of Biology at the University of California San Diego. Dr. Spector has various aspects of the molecular biology of human CMV for over 25 years. She has published extensively on functions of viral proteins and viral induced changes in the cell cycle and chromosome damage. Dr. Spector became interested in cellular immunity induced by viral proteins delivered by DNA vaccines using murine CMV as a model system to develop novel approaches to human vaccines.

Congenital CMV Parent Representative

Lisa Saunders’ daughter Elizabeth was born with congenital CMV in 1989. “The moment Elizabeth was born, I felt a stab of fear—her head was so small, so deformed. The neonatologist said, ‘If she lives, she will never roll over, sit up, or feed herself.’ He was right. We spent the next 16 years making life-and-death decisions about drugs, surgeries, etc., sometimes without support from the medical community. I was shocked to discover that many doctors think congenital CMV infection is really rare! For example, my OB/GYN had never warned me about the risk of doing daycare for preschoolers in my home. Our best allies were the pediatricians, who helped us wade through the suggestions of specialists to find ways to keep our daughter comfortable. By her 16th birthday, Elizabeth had survived several bouts of pneumonia, seizures and major surgeries. Weighing only 50 pounds, she looked odd to strangers, but her cheerful, soul-capturing smile made her lovely to my husband, Jim, and me. Two months later, she died suddenly during a seizure. Jim cried, ‘No one is ever going to look at me again the way Elizabeth did.’ I don’t want that to be the cry of any other parent because no one warned them about CMV.” Lisa Saunders is a writer for the State University of New York at Rockland and the author of short stories and books.